Victor Davis Hanson writes about the increasingly silly world of affirmative action, where there seems to be no real discernible rhyme or reason to who is defined as a victim and who is defined as the oppressor.
dentities are sometimes put on and taken off, like clothes, as self-interest dictates — given that so often they are no longer ascertainable from appearance. If that sounds crass or unfair, ask Elizabeth Warren, who dropped her Native American claims as soon as she at last received tenure and found her 1/32 con suddenly superfluous — to the apparent unconcern of her similarly cynical but now mum employer, Harvard.
Nor is race sure proof of either poverty or past oppression. Asian Americans, for example, have a median family income more than $10,000 a year higher than white Americans. And if pigmentation is proof of ongoing prejudice, why don’t darker Punjabis and Arabs — who do not qualify for special racial preferences — deserve consideration over those lighter-skinned minorities who do?
How long after a Mexican national crossed the border would he become a Chicano eligible for affirmative action? Do Attorney General Eric Holder’s children qualify? Do 1/32 (one great-great-great grandparent) or 1/16 (one great-great grandparent) Cherokees receive preferential treatment? And if so, who administers this odious Jim Crow one-drop DNA test, and how?
In truth, after a half-century in our self-created racial labyrinth, no one quite knows who qualifies as an oppressed victim or why — only that the more one can change a name or emphasize lineage, the better the careerist edge. The real worry is that soon we will have so many recompense-seeking victims that we will run out of concession-granting oppressors.
How odd (or rather, how predictable) that something that started out as a supposedly noble lie — that to atone for past bias we must be judged by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character — has become utterly ignoble and beneath us
This days affirmative action policy is less about the supposed victims than about those who make a good living catering to those supposed victims. The politicians and the political activists and the like.
There have certainly been people in our nation’s history who were made victims because of their ethnicity. The Native Americans are one example, and blacks are another. But how long do they remain victims? How long do we all live in the same society, all with the same basic rights and opportunities, before skin color is no longer an immediate identifier of victimhood?
I think some, including the politicians and political activists who make a living from promoting victimhood, want it to go on forever. The NAACP, for all the noble intent of its creators, these days doesn’t really want the victimization of blacks (or at least the percepton of it) to end. Because if blacks get it in their heads that they aren’t victims any more, they might not need the NAACP any more.
Which would be terrible for people who work for the NAACP.
There are entire political industries devoted to a) making people feel like victims and b) exploit those feelings of victimhood. It is those industries, more than any lingering sense of racism or other sorts of discriminatory feelings, that are driving divides in this country.